Development of SARS-CoV2 humoral response including neutralizing antibodies is not sufficient to protect patients against fatal infection

Sci Rep. 2022 Feb 8;12(1):2077. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-06038-5.


More than a year after the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 remains a global health emergency. Although the immune response against SARS-CoV-2 has been extensively studied, some points remain controversial. One is the role of antibodies in viral clearance and modulation of disease severity. While passive transfer of neutralizing antibodies protects against SARS-CoV-2 infection in animal models, titers of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies have been reported to be higher in patients suffering from more severe forms of the disease. A second key question for pandemic management and vaccine design is the persistence of the humoral response. Here, we characterized the antibody response in 187 COVID-19 patients, ranging from asymptomatic individuals to patients who died from COVID-19, and including patients who recovered. We developed in-house ELISAs to measure titers of IgG, IgM and IgA directed against the RBD or N regions in patient serum or plasma, and a spike-pseudotyped neutralization assay to analyse seroneutralization. Higher titers of virus-specific antibodies were detected in patients with severe COVID-19, including deceased patients, compared to asymptomatic patients. This demonstrates that fatal infection is not associated with defective humoral response. Finally, most of recovered patients still had anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG more than 3 months after infection.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology*
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology*
  • COVID-19 / immunology*
  • COVID-19 / mortality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Humoral*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral